There is a song by "The Clash" called "Should I Stay or Should I Go". It is probably a question most of us have asked for one reason or another at one point in our life. As I was reading my Bible the other day, it took on a whole new meaning for me as I pondered my namesake, the Apostle Paul's, words in:
Philippians 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (NIV)
Paul's entire existence after his Damascus road conversion was Christ and this passage summed it up for him. Basically he says that everything about his life is Christ. Christ means everything to him and and his entire purpose for existing now was to preach the Gospel of Christ and disciple the believers.
The key to how Paul feels comes in the next verse as he ponders his life. How great it is to be here, alive and in his body, because he gets to do the work of his Savior. But, on the other hand, wouldn't it be great to go ahead and die, because then he would get to be in the PRESENCE of his Savior! Paul is actually "torn" in this choice. The Greek word here means that it is like he is caught between two things and squeezed or compressed. He does say that to go ahead and die "is better by far". In the end, he knows that it is more important to stay and assist the churches that he was discipling.
The main reason that Paul could make these statements is because he was SURE in his salvation. He knew the truth of salvation and eternal life in Christ and that gave him the assurance that if and when he died, he would be with his Savior forever. He also KNEW what awaited him in the glory of heaven and the presence of God, but that story is for another time!
Should we stay or should we go? I feel that those of us who reach heaven, will no doubt wonder why we dallied so long here on earth, but until that time, we should continue as Paul did, with "fruitful labor" for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If you want to hear the song, here is a link to it.